Don’t look at the top of the Western Conference standings now, but the Minnesota Timberwolves have found a lofty perch, and they can build their lead in the West with five of their next six games at home — starting tonight with the New York Knicks.
Minnesota built the beginning of its 9-3 record on its elite defense and was enjoying the No. 1 defensive rating in the NBA. But that has slipped in the last week, which creates some value in my free NBA picks as I preview the Knicks vs. Timberwolves on November 20 — a matchup that has the Wolves pegged as 3-point faves according to NBA odds.
Knicks vs Timberwolves odds
Knicks vs Timberwolves predictions
The NBA season is a grind. To outside observers, 82 games in six months may not seem like a lot but just do that most basic math: that is 82 games in 180 days, a game every two nights is effectively the norm. Add in 70 or so days of travel, and no wonder players have their ups and downs within each season.
Back-to-backs are bad, wearing out players and lessening the NBA’s product. But the silver lining to them is they create multiple days off at points in the season, a luxury that would otherwise not exist, a luxury the Minnesota Timberwolves has hardly known this month. With tonight’s game, the Timberwolves will have played nine times in the last 17 days.
That is the NBA grind. But it is still an added emphasis early in the season. And it showed up on the defensive end for Minnesota. Well, either it did or the five-game road trip across the last nine days did.
Before heading out for the western sojourn, the Timberwolves had a 101.4 defensive rating. In those five games, going 4-1, that rose to 116.9. By no coincidence, Minnesota hit the Over in six of its last seven games.
Logically, both the road and fatigue played a part in it. Looking past the last couple of weeks and across the entire last month supports the road’s impact: The Timberwolves boast a 96.6 defensive rating at home but suffer a 115.9 mark on the road.
Returning to Target Center tonight will help in both regards. Everyone sleeps better at home, and the Minnesota fanbase will relish a team atop the standings. It may be a small thing — being half a game up in the West on Nov. 20 — but how much have Timberwolves fans had to celebrate in the last 34 years? This matters to them.
Tonight’s total of 214.5 may seem low, but that is a direct reflection of the New York Knicks playing at the slowest pace in the league. New York averages 95.79 possessions per game, more than 1.5 possessions slower on a nightly basis than the No. 2 ranked Nuggets.
But it is also a tick higher than one would expect from such a slow team and a defensive power like Minnesota, simply because of the Timberwolves’ mild defensive struggles in their last five games. And yes, even with a 116.9 defensive rating in those games, the struggles were “mild,” inarguable when a team goes 4-1 amid such a stretch.
If Minnesota can rally its legs at home tonight, it just might hold the Knicks below 100 points, which would be its fifth such time this season.
My best bet: Knicks team total Under 106.5 points (-112 at FanDuel)
Knicks vs Timberwolves same-game parlay
Knicks team total Under 106.5
Jaden McDaniels Over 9.5 points
The home team is favored, very simply, and it should enjoy a home-court edge. As much as Tom Thibodeau has molded the Knicks in his image, these Timberwolves might be more the ideal Thibodeau once envisioned when he lived down Hennepin Avenue from Target Center.
Thus, Minnesota should be well-suited to slow the Knicks, while Karl-Anthony Towns can continue his hot streak — at least 21 points in six straight games while shooting 59% from the field and 48.5% from deep.
Then there is Jaden McDaniels, somehow forever underappreciated by props oddsmakers. He has reached double digits in seven of his 10 games this year, including each of the last two. Let’s call that seven of his last nine games because that Draymond Green-driven ejection at Golden State last week should hardly count in these considerations. Recognizing that, McDaniels has reached double digits in six straight.
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Knicks vs Timberwolves spread and Over/Under analysis
This spread opened with Minnesota favored by 3.5 on Sunday evening, ticking down to -2.5 during Monday’s lunch hour. There are no known Timberwolves injury worries, so that move presumably ties to the grind Minnesota is coming off of.
The total opened at 213.5 before bouncing between 214 and 213 overnight, finally settling all the way up at 214.5, creating excellent value for betting on the Timberwolves restoring their home-court defensive edge against the slowest team in the league.
Knicks vs Timberwolves betting trend to know
The Knicks have been an against the spread powerhouse this season, going 8-3-2 ATS. Find more NBA betting trends for Knicks vs. Timberwolves.
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Knicks vs Timberwolves game info
|Target Center, Minnesota, MN
|Monday, November 20, 2023
|8:00 p.m. ET
|Bally Sports North, MSG
Knicks vs Timberwolves latest injuries
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